Friday, February 22, 2013

Galatians 5:1-4 Messianic Style


Paul finished his allegory and we are now about to move into Chapter 5.

Galatians 5:1-4 (KJV)
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

The summary of Paul's allegory was stated in verse 31 of chapter 4. Because the Galatians had come to faith in Messiah Yeshua rather than through ritual conversion they were "sons of Sarah." Therefore, as verse 1 of chapter 5 begins, Paul instructed the believers to stand fast, or to refuse to abandon, the liberty they received from Yeshua and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
To clarify, Paul was urging the believers to recognize that they, by coming to Yeshua in faith, were no longer under bondage to the occult, spiritual forces that were in control of the world, and not to enter into another form of bondage.

In verse 2 Paul told them that if they were ritually converted to Judaism, Yeshua would not be of benefit to them. This is the bondage that Paul was afraid that they would enter into. His statement is confusing because of how he used the word "circumcision." In chapter 2, verses 7-9, Paul used "circumcision" as a way of identifying the Jewish people. Here he was using "circumcision" as shorthand for the four steps of ritual conversion (circumcision, payment of the Temple tax, immersion, and agreeing to obey both the written and oral law).  If the Galatians ritually converted they would enter into the bondage that the Jewish system had become.

But even more importantly, if these Gentile Galatians accepted what the false teachers were saying, that they had to become Jews in order to be in the Kingdom of God and they were ritually converted, they would in essence nullify Yeshua's death and resurrection as the completed act that provided salvation. They would nullify faith as the method of how that salvation was applied. This was how Yeshua would not then be of benefit to them.

In verse 3 Paul confirmed that every man that was ritually converted would be a debtor to the whole law, meaning both the written and oral law.

Paul summarized what he was saying in verse 4. Yeshua had no effect for those who thought they were justified (saved) by ritual conversion. They would actually be fallen from grace if they were ritually converted.

Before going on, it must be remembered that Paul was primarily addressing Gentiles and the issue they were facing because of the false teachers. His comments were not directed towards Jewish believers nor was he making a statement regarding the observance of the Torah.

The Jewish believers came to faith in Yeshua just like the Gentiles. They were freed from the elements of the world, also. These elements included any bondage that resulted from the Jewish religion that contradicted God's written Law or went beyond it. This doesn't mean that all Jewish tradition was wrong, bad, or should be thrown away. Most of what was practiced in Judaism was perfectly acceptable. We see this in Yeshua's behavior while He lived on this earth. He practiced Judaism. His way was actually very similar to how the Pharisees lived. However, as we know, Yeshua did take issue with the Jewish system when it conflicted with the Torah. So, the Jewish believers were free to continue to live as Jews, but they were free, now, from any bondage outside of righteousness.

Romans 6:18 (KJV)
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

So both Jews and Gentiles, as believers in Yeshua, were freed from sin and its bondage, whatever form it took, and were now servants of rightousness. They were free to observe Torah without extraneous bondage. There will be more on this next time.


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